Major Donor Fundraising: Prioritize Your Way to Fundraising Success!

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If you are like most development directors or executive directors, you feel a little overwhelmed by your day-to-day responsibilities.

And the day-to-day demands of your job puts you at risk of not making the time to cultivate your major donor relationships the way you’d like.

To help you prioritize your major donor development and fundraising, I strongly suggest creating a donor rating system.  Developing a system is relatively easy and will take the guesswork out of which donor you should contact and cultivate first.

Here’s how it works. Using a scale of 1-3, with 1 being the lowest rating and 3 being the highest rating, rank each of your majors on these four qualities:

  1. Total giving for the past 12 months; the top third should be rated “3”, the middle third rated “2”, etc.
  2. Affinity for your work or cause; do they love what you do or who you serve
  3. Relationship strength; is the relationship between the donor and you or someone else at your organization strong or weak?
  4. Financial capacity; regardless of how much they have given, how much could they give?

Add up the total score for each donor.   The best score would be 12, the worst would be 4.  Then sort your list by the highest rated donor down to the lowest rated donor.

Now you know which donors you should cultivate first!  And now you know how to spend your time to create a bigger impact for your organization.

If you would like a copy of an excel spreadsheet that illustrates the final result from this rating process, please email me at

Jim Shapiro

Jim Shapiro is the fundraising coach you’ve always wanted, the proven Sherpa who can help you get to the top of the mountain. Jim has 30 years’ experience raising money, including serving as the VP of Development for a global $100m nonprofit. He co-founded The Better Fundraising Co. to help small-to-medium nonprofits raise more money.

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